Even more so if you make it a point to mingle and chit chat with locals!
On our Shimla Toy Train ride, in the hills of Himachal, we found ourselves in the company of an elderly gentleman, O P Sharma who to this day travels to Shimla daily from his home in Shoghi to meet his friends and spend time in the reading room. We were on our way to Taradevi Temple and he was kind enough to tell us that we should be getting off at Shoghi and not Taradevi for an easy access to the temple located on a hill. It was a wonderful time chugging through the scenic beauty of Himachal and listening to the stories he had to share.
One such story related to how the rail route was finally constructed for this hill station. As per the locals, the onus of the rail route is on a blessed simpleton, Bhalku fondly called ‘pagla baba’. Apparently baba used to dream (divine gift) the rail route at night, and in the morning spill it out to the Britishers who were repeatedly failing to get it right otherwise. It is said that the final blueprint was prepared based on the baba’s inputs. Since Mr. Sharma’s family has been in Himachal for generations, we had to believe this story, something we may never find documented in books or records but as reference* and trivia.
* One would often find the reference to the baba (as sage / holy man) in the stories related to Barog tunnel.
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Monika Ohson | TravelerInMe